Saturday, November 28, 2015

Holiday baking traditions {+ a giveaway from Betty Crocker}

The holidays are probably my favorite time of year, and for so many different reasons. It's not even about getting presents anymore like it was when I was a kid- it's about doing things for the people I love, and it's about family traditions that get you in the holiday spirit. Sure, a really sweet gift is always appreciated too, but as an adult I've found that it really and truly is better to give than to receive.

One way that I love to give to others is through food, and this time of year, specifically, baking. Probably because as a kid, my mom was always baking up tons of yummy baked goods, cookies, fudges, and treats of all kinds around Christmas time to give to friends and family. I remember she would have these days where all she did was bake, bake, bake...all day! She'd put together these huge gift baskets filled with delicious sweets and give them all away to everyone we knew. People loved it, too! We didn't always have a lot of money, but these home-baked gift baskets were a great way to show the people we loved that we cared, and that goes a lot further than a fancy, more expensive store bought gift. Plus, it was fun helping my mom in the kitchen baking up the treats. I have so many fond memories of learning to bake with her, and as a mom myself, I love baking with my daughter, Lily,  around the holidays now too. She's 7 and loves to help out in the kitchen now, so when I asked her if she wanted to bake some cookies with me to give to some of our friends and spread some holiday cheer, she jumped at the idea.


I decided that I wanted to keep the cookie baking extravaganza somewhat simple (if there is such a thing), since baking with kids can be somewhat messy. I found a coupon for some Betty Crocker cookie mixes, so we grabbed a few of those and some Betty Crocker icing pouches for the sugar cookies. Lily loves decorating cookies the most. I love how Betty makes even cut out sugar cookie pretty easy- no mixer required. We just added some melted butter, an egg, and a few tablespoons of flour to the sugar cookie mix, rolled it out, and it made the perfect, quick cookie dough


Lily thought it was "really cool" how we sprinkled flour on the counter top on purpose. I would usually never let her make a mess like that, haha. Neurotic mother alert. 


The sugar cookies only took about 7 minutes to cook, and then Lily had to very patiently wait until the cookies were completely cooled before she could decorate them. This was excruciating. I can not stress this part enough! I am proud that she survived the wait, because for a while there I thought she wasn't going to make it (wink, wink).

When it was finally time to decorate the cookies Lily went straight to work.

Even big brother, who thought he was just too cool to bake cookies with his mom and little sister, broke away from his video game induced zombie-like state to come decorate a gingerbread man and get his picture taken.

Cookie decorating tip: give the kids an extra cookie sheet to decorate on- it works great for catching sprinkles!


Who can resist decorating a gingerbread man?

My little baking queen made me a pretty blue star cookie with a "M' on it for mommy. Isn't she the sweetest? She also made a gingerbread man that she told me was her great grandpa, which is a little weird, I thought. But it made her happy, and she did a great job, so I told her she did a great job, and then she proceeded to eat the great grandpa cookie. 


As much as I begged and pleaded  for there to be no finger-licking and frosting tasting, fingers were licked and icing tips were contaminated by sticky little mouths. I figured these cookies, while beautifully and painstakingly decorated, should probably not be shared with our friends and loved ones after all (unless they don't mind spitty germs). So while Lily finished icing the last of the cookies, I whipped up a quick batch of Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookies. I love how quick and easy these cookies are to make- no measuring! Just a stick or two of butter and an egg mixed with the chocolate chip cookie mix resulted in these deliciously soft, perfectly light, and crisp cookies. 


When the chocolate chip cookies were completely cooled, I gathered up some stuff to put together my little gift baskets (before the cookies disappeared). Since we actually baked our cookies the morning of Thanksgiving, we were a little pressed for time, so I was aiming for something cute but easy (that's kind of a theme around here, in case you haven't noticed). I found these cute little boxes and treat bags in the dollar section at Target and I'd been holding on to them for the perfect occasion, plus Betty Crocker has the cutest little printables for you to print and use at home and use to help #SpreadCheer to your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers. 


I stuck a few cookies in each of the little bags, sealed them up, and placed them in the baskets. I chose a cute red Betty Crocker gift tag to cut out and stuck it in the basket too, and our #SpreadCheer basket was good to go! All that was left was to deliver it to someone.

I decided to bring some to my friend Anna. I've mentioned her on the blog many times- we became friends through beauty school about 9 years ago and our daughters are the same age, plus she does an amazing job on my hair! Anyway, we're pretty close, and we see each other on a fairly regular basis, except it's been a while because we both were dealing with the recent mass power outage after that stupid wind storm. She just recently got to go back home and have her power restored, so I figured she was probably in need of some extra holiday cheer. She loves when I bring her treats!



To help spread cheer this holiday season, I'm challenging YOU to find a way to spread cheer to the people in your life. You saw how easy it was to whip up a quick batch of Betty Crocker cookies and put together a fun and tasty little gift basket- who would you give one to? Plus, baking together is just plain fun, and it's a great holiday tradition that I look forward to every year with my daughter. I know she is going to look back on these memories quite fondly one day, and hopefully she will continue the tradition with her children. I also hope she continues to spread cheer to everyone she knows! 

To facilitate and #SpreadCheer even further, I'm including a giveaway for a quick $20 cash to one lucky person! Now, keep in mind that you can do whatever you'd like with this $20, but I encourage you to use it to help spread cheer too.

Giveaway #1

Win $20 in Paypal! This giveaway will end on 12/30/2015. Here’s what you need to do:
1.Visit the Betty Crocker #SpreadCheer page to download printables and get a coupon!
2.Create your own #SpreadCheer basket and post a photo on your favorite social media. Tag two (2) of your friends in your post to challenge them to #SpreadCheer! Make sure to use the hashtag #SpreadCheer in your post.
3.In the comments below, link your social media post and tell me who you chose to #SpreadCheer.
4.A winner will be drawn from just those comments who do this

Giveaway #2:

When you're spreading the cheer this holiday season, don't forget to use the hashtag #SpreadCheer on social media. I know a lot of people don't get the need for hashtags- but if you click on one (on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter) you'll see all of the other people out there using the same hashtag, and maybe you'll be inspired to spread a little cheer around your area :) Don't forget to grab a Betty Crocker coupon first! 


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